Chocolate-Caramel-Pecans : Compromise in a Square
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Sour Cherries, Avocado and Mascarpone Verrines
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I am not what people would call a "fashion victim", food wise or clothes wise. I know the shape and curves of my body and what will feel good on it, what fabric I like and cuts that I love and look good on me. The same goes with food... with the exception of verrines, or what one might call "creations in a glass". Whether savory or sweet I have been fascinated by them since I saw them on Mercotte's blog over a year ago, and since I was given this book at Christmas. The European culinary scene seems to have been quite fond of them for a couple of years now and I totally fell for them , so go ahead...say it...I am a verrine fashion victim...and it is mighty sweet.
I am also another kind of food fashion victim as I love to participate in blog events. Not only do I have the chance to share my passion with others but I also discover a multitude of great blogs and talented cooks everywhere in the world. When I read about Chris from Mele Cotte's event Cooking to Combat Cancer, I knew I could not sit back and not participate.
Too many people in my life have been taken away by cancer, particularly my grandmother and my brother. I felt complete loss of control when they died: could I do anything to prevent this in me? Probably not if it is in my genetic profile, but since there is no way to know and since our family health history is not that great, it could certainly be improved, and I could do my part with what I would put in my body. My diet was not bad to start with since my parents very rarely served us boxed or processed foods but I think I developed a sort of acute awareness to the cancer fighting essentials around me.
I know what looks good on me, but I also know what does my body good and food wise, even desserts can do their part in fighting cancer. For this particular event I wanted a shock full of cancer fighting foods in evey bite and although I was not sure how my little creation would turn out I thought it was worth the try. These verrines turned particularly tasty, surprisingly tasty!
I am new to avocados in desserts but after my first try a few days ago, I have to say I am a convert and they won't go only in my salads anymore!
Sour Cherries, Avocado and Mascarpone Verrines:
Makes 4-8, depending on the size of the glas you use.
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces mascarpone, softened to room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
Cream together egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until mixture is thick and doubled in volume. Remove from heat. Stir in the mascarpone until completely blended.
In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
3 avocados, pitted, skin removed and cut into cubes
1/4 sugar, or to taste
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lime
In a food processor, combine the avocados, sugar and lime juice and puree until smooth. Whip the cream to soft peaks and slowly fold it in the avocado mixture.
Sour Cherry Topping:
1 cup sour cherries
1 cup sour cherry jam
Heat the jam and cherries over low heat. Let cool to room temperature until ready to assemble.
Do this just before serving as the avocado will oxydize a bit and get brown over time.
Layer the mascarpone and avocado mousse in glasses or conainers of your choice and top each with a 2-3 Tb. of the sour cherry mixture.
This dessert is health in a glass (if you forget the heavy cream....) as avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body. They are also high in protein, fiber, niacin, thiamin, ribofalvin, folic acid, zinc and healthy fats (see...you can forget about the heavy cream!). Cherries contain the anti-cancer bioflavonoid quercetin.
Update: I apparently converted my temperatures wrong for the salted butter caramels. I corrected the recipe accordingly.
Sunflower Bulgarian Bread: WTSIM Easter Basket
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
500 gr. flour
2 tsp. dry yeast
50 gr. melted butter
extra melted butter for shaping the rolls
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, eggs, remaining sugar, melted butter. Turn the mixer on slow and slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Let the dough come together and continue the kneading either by hand or with the mixture for a good 5-8 minutes.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, divide it into 16 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a circle or oval. Take one piece, brush with melted butter, stack another piece on it, brush with melted butter again and repeat with 2 other portions. You are actually making 4 stacks of 4 portions each. Roll each stack tightly. Cut each into 4 triangular pieces. Position the rolls in a 10 inch round pan, with pointy ends facing toward the center.
Let rise for another 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. Once the dough has risen, brush with an egg wash (egg beaten with some milk) and bake for 30 minutes.
Sugar High Friday 29: Cocoa Nibs Pavlovas
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Well, there is more to these than just "pavlovas"...
I really thought I would have to sit this one out...The theme for this month's Sugar High Friday was "Raw Chocolate" .... where am I going to find raw chocolate in my neck of the woods? There were the obvious choices like homemade chocolate including cocoa butter in the ingredient list, or cocoa nibs that I had successfully located a couple months back. I was feeling less than inspired. I kept looking at my pantry, at the cocoa nibs, at the fridge, and then inspiration came late friday night with these:
Cocoa Nib Pavlovas, Avocado Cream, Honeyed Strawberry and Pineapple, Cocoa Nib and Pistachio Praline....
Yep....just that...Really, I can't be left alone... and before you turn your heads away, let me tell you that sweet avocado rocks! I wanted to keep up with the raw theme throughout this dessert so beside the cocoa nibs everything else is in its original form. I thought at first of filling the meringue disks with a citrus curd or a chocolate cream, but I wanted something soft and light that would let your mouth taste the cocoa nibs as well as the crunch of the praline.
I am not going to lie, I was a bit skeptical about having avocados on the sweet side, but I found tons of recipes out there for avocado dessert so it gave me the confidence to break away from my savory conceptions and get whipping. And you know what...it is amazingly good!
All the components can be made up to one day ahead. These were assembled and served saturday night for a dinner party. I did not tell people about the avocado part, everybody assumed it was pistachio custard until one guest asked me for the recipe and everybody stopped eating, raised their heads, looked at their dessert funny for a minute and digged in again to the sound of :"crunch...crunch...crunch...this is so surprising...this is so good..."
Makes 12 shells, but I only used 6.
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
Preheat oven to 275.
Mix the sugar and corn starch and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the ballon whisk, start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar mixture in a slow steady stream, or one tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and with a spatula, fold in the cocoa nibs.
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper, and with a large spoon, mounds 12 meringue rounds. Bake at 275 for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 and bake for another 20 minutes. At this point you can remove them from the oven, or turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven for a few hours. I let mine sit there overnight.
Avocado Cream, adapted from Avocado.org:
3 avocados, pitted, skin removed and cut into cubes
1/4 sugar, or to taste
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lime
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Cocoa Nib and Pistachio Praline:
100 gr. sugar, divided
1/4 cocoa nib
1/4 shelled raw pistachios
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, melt 50 gr. sugar until light golden brown. Add the remaining 50 gr. sugar and stir until the sugar melt and the caramel is dark golden. Remove from the heat, quickly add the nuts and the nibs. Pour it onto the sheet pan and let cool completely. Break into pieces to decorate the meringues.
For the fruit I just cut up some strawberries and pineapple and drizzled them with some honey to taste.
Assemble the Pavlovas:
Do this just before serving.
Set one meringue disk on a plate. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the avocado cream. Spoon some fruit over the cream and add piece of praline to decorate.
This was perfect last night, as it was still over 80 degrees at 8pm, and it finished our dinner al fresco with style, simplicity and a very light feeling both in the stomach and the mouth.
Salted Butter and Chocolate Caramels
Saturday, March 24, 2007
These are soft, chocolatey homemade butter caramels with a hint of salt linguering on my tongue...and I admit it without guilt or shame that I have been eating way too many of them..the ones in the picture were gone in one minute... oops...
I admit that I am a bit of a caramel, cooked sugar, freak and it is not uncommon that I play with it for fun or to enhance a dessert. I am particularly fond of salted butter caramel anything and I was in heaven when we visited Normandy and Brittany because caramels are everywhere (region's specialty) Unfortunately, B. and I are out...we finished the last one a couple of weeks ago and we are starting to show some signs of "salted butter caramels deprivation"...and it got me thinking that there must be a tried and true recipe out there that I can cook up to save us.
I started searching familiar cooking sites and pondered on this one from Epicurious, but the 70/30 rate of success and disaster made me discard it (and there were some pretty awful reviews)... After some more research I found myself on Guillemette's blog again, staring at these several times a day.
Even if you are a novice baker/cook, I encourage you to try your hand at these, especially following the recipe below as it is simple and straightforward. Making homemade caramels is not complicated but some steps are important to follow:
- just like with any other confections or desserts, only use the best quality ingredients available
-always undercook your caramel, meaning do not let it get dark golden, because it will continue to cook once removed from the heat
- buy a candy thermometer, it is cheap and will make your life so much easier
-be patient. Depending on the humidity or heat in your house, your caramel might take longer to cook than what the recipe says...but always read your thermometer and don't try to outsmart burning sugar...
Salted Butter and Chocolate Caramels, adapted from Guillemette:
100 gr. salted butter
3 gr. sea salt
50 gr. bitter sweet dark chocolate
20 ml. water
100 gr. light corn syrup
250 gr. sugar
200 ml. heavy cream
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over hot water bath and set aside. Heat the cream to lukewarm in the microwave also, and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, set over medium heat, combine the water and corn syrup. Add the sugar and let it caramelize until it reaches a light golden brown.
Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream to the caramel. It will bubble like made but do not worry...it will not bubble over and things come down eventually.
Return the pan to the heat and add the butter and the salt. Let the mixture cook until a thermometer registers 118 C ( about 245 F). Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until completely smooth.
Pour into a parchment lined 8X8 inch baking dish. Let sit overnight.
Unmold and cut squares the next day. Wrap them in parchment paper or candy foil if they last long enough to be packed up for guests.
Here are the converted measurements, thanks to Lisa from La Mia Cucina:
½ c. salted butter
½ tsp. sea salt
2 oz. bitter sweet dark chocolate
2 Tb water
1/3 c. light corn syrup
1 ¼ c. sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
Spinach Chappatis: Thinking Outside My Bread Box
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I followed the recipe to the letter and ended up with six beautiful flat breads. We ate a couple that night and I have used the remainder throughout the week for lunch wraps and for individual pizzas. Perfect!
Carrot Cupcakes: Celebrate A Birthday And A Craving
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick (115 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer, beat the eggs until pale. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored. Add the oil and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Fold in the carrots and chopped nuts. Evenly divide the batter among the muffin tins and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
In bowl of electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth.
Pillow Cheesecake With Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Disclaimer: the upcoming answers only apply to the author of this blog and her husband. Individual experiences may vary.
.....and then we decided to go to sleep....Mom always told me never to go to bed angry, but she forgot to tell me about not going to bed hungry...we had cheesecake dreams the whole night!
Pour the batter over the chocolate shortbread crust. The batter will reach the rim of the cake. Wrap your springform pan with heavy duty aluminium foil, set it in a large roasting pan, add enough hot water to come up halfway up the side of the pan. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off, crack the door of the oven open and let your cake cool in there for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate completely for a few hours or better yet overnight.
Pear And Blue Cheese Mini Cakes With Cardamom and Rosemary
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Now back to our regular programming.
It is no news that I have been hooked on blogging events... like an addict I impatiently await my directives every month and the creative and talented Meeta did not disappoint with her latest Monthly Mingle focusing on savory cakes. I was happy to come up with something that would combine my love of savory and sweet foods. Yes, B. and I do not live on desserts and pastries only....well except on sundays it seems like!
The first time my mom made a savory cake I thought it to be the strangest thing in the world...back then I already knew I would live for all things sweet! She would bake, slice thick and cubes perfect morsels of cakes with ham and gruyere, roasted red pepper and feta, crab and dill, etc...her combinations were endless. They became some my favorite items to make and serve with a glass of wine before dinner, at a cocktail party and other events involving finger foods. I regret not copying her recipe down when I visited this past Christmas and my parents are relax in the Alps I chose not to bither them with such a small inquiry. I figured I could easily come up with my own and so I went googling around. After reading many a savory cake recipe I finally settled on this one.
Notes: baked as the recipe is written, we both regretted not taking a more pronounced stance: sweet or savory. In the morning, I would not mind a little bit more sugar whereas in the afternoon a little bit more salt would be appreciated. I am just so bad at choosing that I have come up with my own solution: a spat of strawberry jam in the morning and a spat of salted butter in the evening.
A Mouthful Of A Name...
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Sunday Baking Makes For Good Eating
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Cream Cheese Braid, inspired from the Fresh Loaf:
Makes 2 braids
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cup warm milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 oz. butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tb. melted butter
For the sponge: mix the sugar, yeast, and flour together in bowl. Pour in the warm milk. Beat until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1/2 hour.
Add the eggs, salt, sugar, and one cup of the flour to the sponge. Beat until smooth. Then add the cream cheese and butter in small chunks and beat well. Add the remaining flour a handful at a time and mix in until you get a soft dough.
Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise and room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Deflate the dough, recover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge, deflate and divide in 2 equal pieces. For the braid, I divide one piece in too and twist them together (so not exactly the conventional braid, but at this point I can't wait any longer!!). Place it on parchment paper lined baking sheet, allow to rise 45 minutes, brush with some egg was and bake at 375 for 20- 25 minutes.
Take out of the oven, and while it cools a little, prepare the glaze. Add enough milk to the powdered sugar and melted butter to make a soft spreadable glaze and our all that goodness on your braid...and go ahead and eat because after all that you really deserve it!
Do the same for the other braid, or roll out into a rectangle and fill with your avorite filling and braid it according to the recipe on the Fresh Loaf. The details are great and you can't mess up, makes me wish I ad blueberries left because I have the other loaf awaiting its fate in the fridge...
One Step Forward...Two Steps Back
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Hence, the reason why I have not been around much in the past few days....!
Creme Brulee or Crema: A Week's Compromise
Thursday, March 08, 2007
"coconut creme brulee!"
When it comes to creme brulees, cremas or flan, I follow the same recipes I used at the restaurant, scaled down for home purposes, but I really have no clue where and when they originated since they were taught by the departing pastry chef to the newcomer and so forth so here is one that The Chef showed me and that I eventually passed on also.
Dulce de Leche Brioche Rolls
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)
Beat in 3 eggs on low speed, then add sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding next (dough will be soft and batter-like). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Lift up dough around edges and allow dough to fall and deflate in bowl.
Cover bowl with plastic and chill until dough stops rising, lifting up dough around edges and allowing dough to fall and deflate in bowl every 30 minutes, about 2 hours total. Cover bowl with plastic and refrigerate an hour.
Nostalgia & Riz Au Lait
Sunday, March 04, 2007
If you have read my last post, you know that I am known as the "Queen of sticky rice". I don't cook fluffy grain, I always end up with mush, no matter what tutorial or chef I follow. I think I gave Chef Roland a few grey hair back at the restaurant! But it's grandma's "Riz au Lait" we are talking about! You can imagine it took me less than 30 seconds to put the saucepan on, the vanilla out and the Nostalgia in! Here is her recipe, no specific source given which was rare for her, so I am guessing it was a recipe that evolved with time and she finally came to a combination if ingredient that she liked and worked for her.
Mamie Paulette's Riz Au Lait (Rice Pudding):
3 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 oz arborio rice
1 vanilla bean
1 oz. butter
In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean split in half, and the rice. Cook over low heat until all the milk is absorbed and the rice is nice and tender. Take the pan off the heat, remove the vanilla bean, and whisk in the butter. Pour into ramequins and serve warm or refrigerate if you have to wait to eat it...but that would be a shame!
Serve with fruits or plain drizzled with some honey.
I never realized how a simple bowl of this rice pudding would bring on such a complex feeling called Nostalgia: bitter-sweet memories that make you the person you are today an yet so difficult to visit.
I am entering this recipe in Ellie's event "Nostalgia" for March. Head over to her blog for more details and scrumptious recipes written with care and witt.
In Case You Were Curious
Saturday, March 03, 2007
2/ I have diplomas, Masters degrees, I can speak and read many languages, I can pull sugar, run marathons, and yet I CAN’T cook rice…unless it is sticky rice you want!
3/ I listen to every genre of music. My dad played classical music all the time when I was growing up and I snobbed it for a while, the college years, then I came back to it. I remember quiet weekends with us doing crafts and my dad painting while listening to music. Music is always on at our house. B. plays trombone in a Jazz band and he is always humming or listening to something and I am never faithful to one genre of music. If you were to put salsa on then and there, I would get up and start shaking my hips….if you were to put on some rock, I would start jumping up and down….or calm down with a good classical piece. I am versatile.
4/ There is a dark pink mark on my right upper thigh…not a birthmark….but the place where my brother bit me over 20 years ago….I think I said something I should not have! Ah!!
5/ I am addicted to…”Cheez It”…Yep! Discovered them when I first moved here…don’t get me the white cheddar, the spicy jalapeno, the gourmet parmesan, don’t try to repackage the reduced fat ones or buy them at the healthfood store…I am addicted to the orange neon cheddar full fat '"Cheez It"….Na! I said it! I am sure in a few years I will glow in the dark!
On A Quest: Gerard Mullot's Cerisai Cakes
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Spoon 1/4 cup in the bottom of buttered muffin tins and add a heaping Tb. of sour cherry jam. Spoon another 1/4 cup of batter on top of the jam and bake bake for 15 to 20 minutes.